The Guide to London Heathrow Airport – 1956.
As far as I’m aware the official title “London Airport” was dropped in 1966 when it became “London Heathrow Airport“, says Mike Ashworth, who scanned this terrific artefact. I suppose this was to accommodate the ‘other’ London airports at Gatwick and Stansted.
As well as the ‘official’ guides published by the airport themselves other publishers got in on the act and this is one of the once numerous booklets issued by Pitkin Pictorials. The series was founded by one Mr Pitkin in c. 1946 and published soft backed booklets about special occasions or places associated with British themes – the Royal Family featured heavily. The imprint is still on the go.
For this one Sir Miles Thomas has been drafted in as author, a person heavily involved in the airline business as, after post-WW1 experience with Morris Motors, he rose to be chairman of BOAC until he fell out with the Minister of Transport in 1956 and resigned.
The other ‘personality’ mentioned in the booklet is the ‘Commandant of London Airport’, how grand a title and a sign of the military involvement in civil aviation at the time, Air Marshal Sir John D’Albiac KBE CB DSO RAF (Ret’d) who had a long and distinguished career in the Air Force.
The stirring front cover (annoyingly anonymous) shows a BOAC flight over the airport and is, I think, one of the Bristol 175 Britannia turboprop airliners (G-GNBA?) that are shown in the book as being “in the course” of delivery. I always liked the BOAC livery. The back cover shows the plan of the airport making a strong point of the main buildings being at the hub of the runways and the famous access tunnel that was described as a ‘considerable engineering feat’.
The ‘new’ London Airport at Heathrow, redeveloped as the capital’s main airport in post-WW2 years to an overall plan developed by the architect Sir Frederick Gibbard, was one of the wonders of the capital and many thousands of people visited it as a tourist attraction even if air travel was beyond their purse. The airport had first come into use as a military airfield in 1944 and so was almost redundant when built for military use and so was taken over by the Ministry of Civil Aviation for development.
The commitment to design was total, with new typography and signage.
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